By: Russell Brooks
Jamie Lundmark knew he needed a change of venue when he only played in three of the New York Rangers first seven games of the 2005-06 season.
Coyotes General Manager Mike Barnett saw the potential in Lundmark and made a move to acquire the Edmonton, Alberta native for Jeff Taffe on October 18, 2005.
"Playing in New York, there were other players playing in spots where I could contribute," said Lundmark, who has two goals and five assists in 12 games this year. "The change was positive for me."
After arriving in Phoenix, Lundmark agreed to go on a two-week conditioning stint with the San Antonio Rampage, the Coyotes AHL affiliate in order to get back into "hockey shape."
"When Jamie came here he was in good shape," said Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky. "But in this game there are two sorts of shape and he needed to be in hockey shape. So he went down there and came back ready to play."
While in San Antonio, Rampage Head Coach Pat Conacher, helped Lundmark improve his game in all areas including special teams.
"Pat Conacher helped me a lot," said Lundmark, the Rangers 1st round, 9th overall pick, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. "When I came to the bench he would tell me how I could have played a situation better or how I could have positioned my body better. He was really helpful and I talk to him every day."
When Lundmark returned to the Coyotes after his conditioning stint, he was placed in the lineup and played well in his next two games tallying an assist. Even after being a healthy scratch for the next two games, he remained in good spirits and committed himself to the team by practicing hard, including staying after to make sure he was staying on top of his conditioning and to fine tune the small areas of his game.
Lundmark returned to the lineup again against the Dallas Stars on November 25, 2005 and scored a goal in the win.
"It was nice to contribute in the win and get some confidence," said Lundmark.
From there, Lundmark hasn't skipped a beat. He had a three-game point streak last week in which he recorded a goal and two assists while going a +3.
"He returned a completely different player," said Gretzky.
One area the 6-foot, 200-pound forward has significantly helped the Coyotes is on the power play. Gretzky has put Lundmark back on the blue line of the first power play unit, a move that has shown immediate results. The power play has gone 10-40 over the last five games while Lundmark has played the point on several man-advantage situations.
"The power play has been very effective since we put Jamie back there," said Gretzky. "We look dangerous every time we have the advantage. He also allows me to utilize more people in other spots."
Sometimes a change of scenery can be good for a player. In the case of Jamie Lundmark, it has turned into a win-win situation for both the player, who continues to flourish and the club, which continues to climb the Pacific Division standings.